As the Nationals’ cling to their playoff lives with a dramatic late-season run an unheralded 26-year-old rookie is piling up victories.
Tanner Roark, a former 25th-round pick acquired from the Rangers for Cristian Guzman in mid-2010 who didn’t make his big-league debut until last month, tossed seven shutout innings against the Braves last night to improve to 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA for the Nationals.
To record seven wins in less than two months is pretty remarkable, especially considering Roark was in the bullpen for most of that time. He went 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA in nine relief appearances totaling 23 innings and then moved into the rotation at the beginning of this month, going 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts totaling 19 innings.
Obviously he’ll come back down to earth eventually, but Roark’s raw stuff has also been very impressive with an average fastball velocity of 92.6 miles per hour and a mid-80s slider that has been nearly unhittable. And yet before turning into a cross between Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera for the Nationals he posted a 3.87 ERA at Triple-A and a 4.21 ERA at Triple-A.
Baseball, you try to explain it.